Gang Culture Feared

Geoff Chambers, Gold Coast Bulletin (Molendinar, Queensland), July 4, 2009

PACIFIC Islander and Maori youths are forming gangs in schools and have been identified by the Gold Coast City Council as an emerging social problem.

Large populations of New Zealanders and Polynesians have migrated to the northern end of the Gold Coast, forcing a re-think of the city’s social inclusion program.

Tweed Heads resident Jack Berryman, a Maori heavily involved with local Waitangi Day celebrations, told The Weekend Bulletin many of the youths had been caught up in gang culture.

“I think it is the Maori and Polynesian culture, where the kids band together and sometimes get up to no good when boredom kicks in,” said Mr Berryman.

“It is the warrior instinct. They like to play tough and fight.”

The Bulletin has been told of social problems at Nerang and Keebra Park state high schools.

“When the kids are sent over, whether it be because they’ve been playing up or have been forced to come because their parents have work here, they can sometimes get defensive,” said Mr Berryman.

“There is also that gang persona, driven by the American persona of the Bloods and Crips and the New Zealand gang culture driven by Black Power and the Mongrel Mob.”

The Federal Government and the council are expected to join forces to ensure the Gold Coast and Tweed region avoids the Sydney western suburbs example, which is rife with ethnic violence.

Mayor Ron Clarke this week met Immigration and Citizenship Minister Senator Chris Evans at the Beenleigh Community Cabinet meeting to discuss the influx of Polynesians.

The city is expected to apply for funding to bankroll social inclusion programs and the parliamentary secretary for multicultural affairs Laurie Ferguson is expected to meet with the council.

“We really want to nip this in the bud,” said Cr Clarke.

“As it currently stands, the city’s high housing costs have meant that we have not experienced the same influx as other areas.

“But we want to stop gangs gathering in particular areas of the city.”

Nerang councillor and sustainable city future chair Peter Young said he was aware of tensions in some local schools.

Cr Young said he would work closely with local Pacific Islander community groups.

“There is a whole list of reasons why we’re seeing this trend occurring,” said Cr Young.

“I think the main focus should be on support services.

“If we can get some extra government funding, we will be able to set up programs to assist kids who might be a bit lost or finding it hard to establish an identity.”

Cr Young said the church community would be consulted.

“Some of the church communities are dominated by Kiwis and Pacific Islanders,” he said.

“I think the focus has to be on educating the youth, particularly the young boys.”

The council will discuss funding options after the winter recess break.

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